about this blog



This blog tracks the ongoing changes of my garden, and the wildlife I try to attract to it. It's a nature blog. It contains my thoughts and musings about anything and everything to do with nature - gardening, book reviews, philosophy, travel, science, history, art, design, politics.
Catmint is my signature plant because it has all the qualities I value in a plant: resilience, beauty and the capacity to spread prolifically . Unfortunately it's not indigenous. If I was starting again I'd probably choose an indigenous plant.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

birds in the garden

The environmental health of a garden can be measured by the number of native species compared to the number of non-native species of birds. According to this criterion my garden is pretty healthy because I have seen lots of native birds around lately and not so many introduced species.

I thought I’d make a list of all the birds I’ve ever seen in the garden.

Common Mynah: these are my least favourite birds. They are very aggressive. I have seen them gang up on other birds and chase them away. Their voice is not pleasant, consisting of loud growls and other harsh sounds. So I’m delighted not to have seen them around for a few months.



Spotted Turtle-Dove: although an introduced species I do welcome them. I have written several posts on these birds. Pigeons have been loved and valued at times in history but are currently getting a bad rap. I love their soothing peaceful cooing voices.



Laughing Kookaburra: I saw a kookaburra sitting on the back fence on one single occasion, years and years ago. Then it flew away never to return. I guess there are no snakes for it to eat in my garden. Maybe just as well … and it didn’t laugh either!



Sulphur-crested Cockatoo: I was delighted that this wild bird was so friendly and I fed it. One day I came home and heard a chipping noise. The cockatoo was pecking away at the window ledge and had already half destroyed the wooden frame. I regretfully chased it away and no cockatoo was ever encouraged to visit or stay again.



Common Blackbird: Introduced to Australia in 1862, these birds feel like family since several chicks hatched on our deck last spring. You can click on this link to see the pics. I am very fond of blackbirds. I often see them scrabbling away in the mulch. They seem very established and at home in the garden. Their song consists of lovely melodious phrases.



Owl: On two nocturnal occasions I saw an owl sitting still and silent on a tree branch. I think it must have been a Southern Boobook. After that I put up an owl nesting box but I have not yet seen a sign that it is inhabited.



Australian Magpie: Their sound is a loud musical carolling, often in duets or larger groups. They can be aggressive and attack people when they are nesting – luckily I have had no problems with this so far.



Australian Raven: I usually see them in pairs. Their call is loud and deep, and they of course are large and black.



Rainbow Lorikeet: these colourful parrots have been around for years but they appeared in large noisy groups every day last summer, eating the nectar from the flowers on the tall eucalypt tree.



Pied Butcherbirds: According to my book on native Australian birds butcherbirds are possibly the best singer of all Australian birds, making beautiful melodious piping sounds. They are also fierce predators on small animals and birds. That is why they have such a strong large hooked bills – all the better to eat you with, my dear



Striated Thornbill: Tiny birds moving in flocks, continually darting and chittering. Maybe the rapid darting is to escape the fearsome butcherbirds described above.



Red Wattlebird: these are frequent visitors to the garden. They share the eucalypt flowers with the lorikeets and they also hang upside and eat the nectar from the brachysema flowers and the various leptospermums. They get their name from the fleshy reddish wattle on the side of their neck. Their calls are not musical – they cough, and call out “yak yak” in a harsh tone.



Sources: A Photographic Guide to Birds of Australia, by Peter Rowland, published by the Australian Museum,1995. Photos from Wikipedia, Morguefile and me.

23 comments:

  1. Dear Catmint, I have been totally fascinated, and informed, with this posting. Some of the birds are well known to me - blackbird, owl, pigeon - but many are not. It does seem very strange to be in Europe and to know that parrots, so often kept as pets in cages here [I hasten to add, not by me], are in fact wild birds in other parts of the world.

    Pigeons, like you, I have no problem with whatsoever and rather deplore the attempts to rid them from London's Trafalgar Square. Happily, those in St. Mark's Square, Venice, continue to thrive. Possibly the Italians are a much more tolerant nation.

    All wildlife, in my view, should be encouraged and I am so pleased to know that you have such a wealth of it in your own garden.

    My warmest wishes for a very Happy Easter Sunday.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What fascinating birds, especially that Laughing Kookaburra. I mainly seem to get Blackbirds and various Pigeons.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Catmint. What fascinating birds and wonderful pictures of them. The first time I saw a Kookaburra I was the one laughing. I do not know how that little bird holds up that large bill. LOL! The Lorikeet's are so gorgeous with their bright colors.
    Lona

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Catmint
    Nice post, reviewing your introduced and native birds.
    You might have picked up on the fact that your "owl" is in fact a Tawny Frogmouth. Not closely related to true Owls. Nocturnal and insectivorous mostly. Closer to Swifts than Owls, it seems.
    Lovely birds.
    Cheers
    Denis

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am amazed at how many beautiful and colorful birds you have fly by in your garden. Ours are mostly shades of brown. I enjoyed seeing the photo of the kookaburra. My mother used to sing me a song about that bird :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. So many familiar birds ... many of the same ones visit my garden as well. We see the Kookaburras, Magpies, Ravens, Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos.

    Luckily the Mynahs never make it this far out of the city.

    We don't see the Striated Thornbill or Red Wattlebird up here ... both little beauties.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I enjoyed reading your comments about the birds, some of which we have in New Zealand, and others which we don't.
    Living in a coastal city and close to the beach, I get seagulls overhead (thankfully they rarely land), blackbirds, starlings, and the dreaded bully mynah. Mynahs are also quite aggressive when nesting, divebombing the dog and often me when we are out in the garden.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Being from a colder environment, I also find it odd to think of parrots as a bird that you would see flying around freely outside.

    Fascinating birds, all except the pigeons and ravens look totally different from anything one could see around here.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow, I can't believe you have cockatoos and rainbow lorakeets flying around in your garden. I've always thought of those birds as something in the pet store. What fun to look out your window and see such beauties (as long as they're not chewing on your window frame, of course!).

    ReplyDelete
  10. These birds seem very exotic to me when compared to our mousy little backyard creatures. I can't remember the last time I saw a mynah bird. We had a landlady once that kept one as a pet. Really enjoyed this post!

    ReplyDelete
  11. wow. I can't even imagine finding large groups of colorful birds outside of the pet shop! This is a great post! I really don't know about birds at all, but can do a few great bird calls! :)

    I loved seeing the kookaburra. We did sign that song about kookaburra sitting in the old gum treeeeee.

    ReplyDelete
  12. fabulous post! Catmint, are you on FaceBook? If so, please friend me. I keep most of my birding stuff in my albums there...plus a lot more garden photos. I love birding and we live just minutes from one of the top birding destinations in the U.S....Hornsby Bend.

    I couldn't agree more that a gardens health can be explained by its feathered visitors!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Catmint~~ Obviously you're doing everything right to have such a cast of characters frequenting your gardens. How delightful!

    ReplyDelete
  14. You have the most amazing birds down there. I remember singing a song about a kookaburra as a child, but not having any idea what it looked like. Now I know.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh THANK YOU for this wonderful bird posting.

    Some of them were quite a surprise to me. I loved them.

    I am a passionate birder and I have a garden dedicated to the birds.

    Keep up your great work. I'll be checking in regularly.

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi cyber-friends , I really appreciate these comments - I am quite surprised that these birds seem extraordinary or exotic. I guess we all just get used to familiar things and take them for granted. Cheers, catmint

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh Catmint these are such beautiful birds. You know this is the first blog that I have seen the humble pigeon given a little limelight on the blogging stage. I know we take the bird for granted but we really would miss its choooing if it wasnt around.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Catmint! What great photos - I don't think I've ever seen a Kookaburra! Hope things are going well. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great post Catmint. We get big black cockatoos at the nursery, they are not as brazen as sulphur cresteds. I think they weren't about until a few years ago. Hopefully that's a good sign. I was also completely distracted for a Saturday morning last year by a pair of Wedge Tailed eagles. Just amazing. Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am.

    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Rosie, yes I agree, pigeons generally get a bad press, but they're cool. I've written a few posts on them.

    Hi Shady, I guess you don't see kookaburras outside of Australia. Their laughing sound is wonderful. I had a friend who had one regularly visit and she fed it meat.(they are carnivorous, usually eat snakes).

    Hi Peter, it's funny the way things change. This year we seem to have lots of butcher birds, more than ever before. But wedge tailed eagles, now that must have been an amazing sight. I have only seen them at Healesville Sanctuary.

    Cheers, catmint

    ReplyDelete
  21. A breathtaking post for bird lovers! I called my husband into the room because he's the official 'birder' in the house, but I'm as fascinated by the fauna of Australia as I am of the nation's incredible flora.
    Thanks so much - I'll be dreaming about Kookaburras tonight;-))
    Alice

    ReplyDelete
  22. thank you for your comment Alice. I hope you enjoyed your dream about kookaburras. cheers, catmint

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Catmint I love your blog, Its nice to see someone else in Melbourne writing a blog about gardening! I love this post about birds in the garden and must congratulate you on the varieties which visit your garden. The owl, you wrote about, if thats what it is actually a tawny frogmouth, a wonderful bird to have in your garden! I will keep reading with interest.

    ReplyDelete

I love to get feedback and comments, and getting to know other bloggers. I also appreciate corrections if you detect an error, because I'm not an expert, but a self taught enthusiastic amateur on a steep learning curve.

Popular Posts